One of Italy's hidden treasures: straw hats Featured

A festival in Montappone from 23 to 25 July 2010, dedicated to this type of headwear
by 19 May 2010

Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland has rekindled interest in Lewis Carroll's story, and in posing questions like: why is the Hatter mad? Could it be, as mathematicians point out, that he is really the Mad Adder? Certainly, Carroll gives the character some interesting points of logic, as in the famous quote "If you knew Time as well as I do... you wouldn't talk about wasting it." Visitors to Italy interested in seeing some more extreme examples of headwear could head for a little town called Montappone.

Montappone is not exactly a famous destination or a constant location on the mass tourism circuit, and this is probably a good thing. However it has a long tradition in a specialist craft activity, straw hats, and every year it organizes a fair dedicated to this form of headgear. On 23, 24 and 25 July 2010, Montappone (inland from Ancona, in the Marche region of Italy) will provide an overview of the world of straw hats, with crafts people working on hats, traditional games, music and cuisine, an exhibition of the most bizarre hats, and another show dedicated to "cinema hats" featuring pieces created by famous marques and worn by top actors and actresses.

The festival, named simply "Il cappello di paglia" (the straw hat) is a festival that is also dedicated to the town of Montappone itself, which has developed a true vocation for the craft. Montappone is a manufacturing cluster for the speciality, with 45 companies in this municipal district and in neighbouring towns. Together they account for 70% of Italian production in the sector, and half of European production. This year is the ninth edition of the event, which was launched by Giuliano De Minicis, and which over the years has become a true showcase for the latest trends in hats. Visitors can explore the fascinating mediaeval streets, alleys and piazzas of the town, trying on and purchasing traditional hats, and finding more unusual versions that they can purchase for use in society events for which an original hat has become de rigueur.

Ancillary events include live music on each evening, and a fireworks performance on Sunday evening to close the show. For further information, phone +39 0734 760426, or see www.ilcappellodipaglia.it